Constipation and Indigestion Cures

Constipation and indigestion are the most common gastrointestinal complaints experienced by adults. If you suspect your infant has a problem, please consult with your doctor. Please note that this article is not a replacement for individual medical advice.

Constipation can be defined as passing infrequent stools, or having difficulty passing stools. Causes include bowel obstruction, poor motility (or ‘lazy’ bowel), side effects from medication e.g. codeine, and diet.

If the constipation is accompanied by abdominal pain, passage of blood, vomiting or weight loss, or has lasted over two weeks, then you should seek medical attention.

Following the below regimen can help avoid or cure mild constipation.

Drink enough fluids: Providing you don’t have a complicating issue such as kidney or heart problems, aim to drink 1.5-2 liters of fluid per day.

Eat enough fiber: Fiber helps to bulk up the stool and improve the gut flora. The recommended amount is 20-35 grams/day. High-fiber foods include whole grains, cereals such as bran, whole wheat, legumes and pulses. Fruit and vegetables particularly potato skins can also provide moderate amounts of fiber.

Regular exercise: Blood flow movement is vital for any digestion to take place – over time, we do less and less exercise – even something like walking for an hour or two (depending on your current exercise rate you may need more or less) – blood flow has been the most underestimated tool to help with any health condition.

Laxatives: They can be helpful to manage in the short term, but overuse can lead to problems such as a lazy bowel, or even diarrhea. Examples include senna tablets (6-12 hours onset of effect), glycerin suppositories and micro-enemas (15-30 minutes), and fiber supplements such as psyllium.

Moving on to indigestion, this may include symptoms such as: a burning sensation in the upper abdomen and/or behind the breastbone, nausea, belching and increased salivation, and feeling full early in a meal. If symptoms last longer than a few days, or are severe, or there is back pain, vomiting, there is passage of black stools, pain or difficulty in swallowing, or appetite and/or weight loss, then immediate medical attention should be sought. Potentially serious conditions can underlie indigestion, such as oesophagitis (inflammation of the gullet), stomach and duodenal (small bowel) ulcers and gullet and stomach cancer.

Common triggers of indigestion include: smoking, acidic, spicy or fatty food, peppermint, fizzy drinks, caffeine, alcohol, obesity, and eating too close to bedtime. Some medications can also trigger indigestion such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen).

If you are experiencing mild symptoms, you could first reduce or stop possible triggers (check with your doctor if this includes a prescribed medication). The following are also recommended:

– Weight loss if you are overweight or have experienced recent weight gain.

– For nocturnal symptoms, raising the head of the bed by six to eight inches.

– Eat at least two to three hours before bedtime.

Antacids can be used to help with indigestion by neutralising stomach acid. These have a rapid onset of action (within 15 minutes) but may only last up to an hour or so. These are good for occasional symptoms i.e. weekly or less often.

If you still are experiencing indigestion despite the above advice, you should see a doctor.